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Author Topic: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build  (Read 30030 times)

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« on: Mar 14, 2013, 14:01:10 »
Well, the bike I'm bringing to the table is a 1981 Kawasaki GPz550. I've previous done a partial restoration of a vintage bike, but this will be my first cafe racer project. They say that this is the bike for which the term "pocket rocket" was coined. We'll see, I have yet to ride it. I bought it about 2 months ago as a non-runner in "rough shape", as the seller put it.

I've been rather busy in the time since I purchased the GPz and have had only limited time to work on it. None-the-less I have already done a few things. So, I will probably send out the first few posts in rapid succession. Not all will be exciting, my intent is simply to document the project as is occurred. I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers,
Todd

PS: Here is a pic of the bike from the Craigslist ad where I first found it.

1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #1 on: Mar 14, 2013, 14:37:38 »
I live in Seattle, but I found the GPz for sale in the Portland (OR) Craigslist. I was able to negotiate, via email, a sale price of $500 sight unseen, $600 with some spare parts: a spare engine in unknown condition, spare carbs, front fender, gas tank, and wheels. The seller described the bike's condition as "rough" and it was a non-runner. The bike has no kick start (never did, has no facility for one) and had a bad starter clutch. Additionally it was missing the chain. So, there was no good way for me to turn the engine over and get an idea of its condition. Basically I had to decide whether or not I trusted the previous owners assessment of the bikes mechanical condition. I decided that he seemed honest enough, and he hadn't over sold the bikes condition. He was up front that it needed some significant elbow grease.

It took me a borrowed truck (thanks Colton), a rented trailer (Uhaul trailers are a much more reasonably priced proposition as compared to their vehicles, no mileage charge), and an entire day to go to Portland and pic up the bike. But I got it. I couldn't start working on it right away. I had to get rid of an abandoned project first. I had earlier picked up a CL350 that turned out to be too-far-gone and not easily titled that I needed to part and sell before I could start on the GPz. 

Here are a couple of pics, one of the bike on the trailer, one of it when I first put it in my garage.
« Last Edit: Mar 14, 2013, 16:16:45 by c4f3 r4c3r »
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline Wahoo650

  • Posts: 691
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #2 on: Mar 14, 2013, 16:33:59 »
These are GREAT bikes.  Top of the 550 heap when they came out and are fairly bullit proof.  Good luck and hope it turns out to be well bought!

Matt
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" George Orwell
1980 XS850SG - the disco bike
2014 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
AMA Member
MGNOC Member
http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v121/Wahoo650/
http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=15221.0

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #3 on: Mar 14, 2013, 16:43:20 »
Thanks Matt! It is definitely going to be a "rat bike" for a while. But I think it is going to make a pretty cool one.

- Todd
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #4 on: Mar 14, 2013, 18:00:25 »
So the first major job that I decided to tackle was the starter clutch replacement. The previous owner had claimed that he didn't think that this was too big of a job. I've got to say, it is fairly substantial. You've got to take just about every cover off of the engine, the alternator cover, the drive sprocket cover, the clutch cover, the secondary shaft cover, and the oil pan. The exhaust has to come off. The clutch assembly has to be disassembled and removed. The oil pump has to be removed. And the secondary shaft has to be removed. At least that is the procedure for doing it with the engine still in the bike. The procedure described in the Clymer manual involves pulling the motor first.

One of the biggest problems I encountered was removing the clutch hub (regular clutch, not start clutch). Generally this procedure calls for a special Kawasaki tool to hold the hub in place, to keep it from spinning, while you remove the center nut.  Well, if you are like me, the ol' McGyver in you comes out and you start thinking about how you can fashion your own. The first thing that I tried was to drill two holes in a long rod and bolt the rod to the towers where the clutch pressure plate spring bolts normally attached. I used that to hold the clutch hub while I put a breaker bar on the hub nut. I promptly busted off two of those towers. Doh! Now I had a new problem. I needed new clutch parts, as well as to replace the starter clutch.

I tried fashioning two other tools, one from a large bar clamp, one from two clutch plates attached to a long bar. Ultimately, neither of these tools worked. I had to buy an electric impact wrench to get that nut off (and apply friction to the hub by wrapping it in rope). I had to scavenge my spare engine for the busted clutch parts.
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline merc4now

  • Posts: 130
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #5 on: Mar 14, 2013, 18:28:35 »
Need any parts let me know just put a parts bike up for sale since I wanted to go the SR250 and CL360 route. 82 gpz, they look kinda mean when done right and take a few mods and it's the original street fighter. None the less good luck I'll keep an eye on your post to see how much I may regret getting rid of mine.
Current projects

81/80 sr250's
xt550 engine
84 honda nighthawk 550frame..

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #6 on: Mar 16, 2013, 16:16:01 »
Finally got to the starter clutch, removed it, and replaced it with a new assembly. Here are a few pics:
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #7 on: Mar 16, 2013, 16:45:37 »
With the new starter clutch installed and the bike reassembled I finally got a chance to start the bike for the first time. The first press of the start button did nothing (as did the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, ...). I ended up jumping the solenoid with a screw driver. Like so many electrical problems on old bikes, I would later find out that the only problems was a dirty ground wire (on the solenoid primary side). Anyway, though there was a good bit of valve noise, and a few seconds after I stopped filming this video the bike started dumping green fuel all over the garage floor (from carb overflow tube, probably stuck float from old gas), it did start and run OK. Here is a video of it running, check it out:

« Last Edit: Apr 24, 2013, 19:27:43 by c4f3 r4c3r »
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #8 on: Mar 16, 2013, 17:04:56 »
Though there is still a lot of work to do to make this a viable running/driving bike, I couldn't resist the urge to start making some cafe modifications. When I purchased the bike I paid a bit extra to get the previous owner's spare parts. One of these parts was a spare gas tank, from which I intend to build a seat cowl. To be precise, I will use the spare as a gas tank (as it is in better condition than the one currently on the bike, though neither are dent free) and I will use the current tank to make the cowl.

I removed the current tank and pulled of the bits that I would need to transfer over to the other tank (fuel level float, petcock, and cap). I then gave it an internal soap and water bath. I did not assemble the tank that will become the new fuel tank, because it is rusty inside and will need to be cleaned first. But, from the tank I removed, I began to cut the seat cowl.

Below is a picture of the rough cut. Of course there is much more work to be done on it yet, like closing off the end and attaching it to the bike. For now it is just sitting on the bike so that I could snap a photo to give you an idea of what I have in mind.
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/

Offline c4f3 r4c3r

  • Posts: 44
Re: 1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Build
« Reply #9 on: Mar 17, 2013, 00:39:11 »
OK, I got tired of looking at that awful square headlight. And I needed to see what the front end was going to look like once I started dropping things down a bit. Here is a rough mockup that shows the basic changes that I am going for in this first round:

clip on bars
get rid of those mirrors (I plan to add some lane splitters but don't have them yet)
mod the gauge mount to drop them down a bit (smaller gauges isn't in the budget at this point)
mod the ignition key mount to drop it down a bit
shave off the old bar mounting towers
round headlight and new brackets
getting rid of the plastic indicator panel (working on relocating the indicators and fuel gauge)

I will need a different master cylinder. The gigantic one that came with the bike is getting in the way now that I've switched to clip-ons. Anyway, here is a before pic and an "after", sort of (it is only a mock-up at this point).
« Last Edit: Mar 17, 2013, 02:47:01 by c4f3 r4c3r »
1981 Kawasaki GPz550 Cafe Project - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=47139.0
1971 Honda SL350 original - http://sl350.blogspot.com/